Posted by: bobroth | February 8, 2010

A dark February day in the Financial District

Finding the lightness of Being within

I live in the Financial District, at the southern-most tip of Manhattan Island … I am for now, with the kindness of a donor, in a surprisingly spacious fourth-floor apartment above the David Lynch Foundation’s ground-floor offices at 70 Broad Street, just off of Wall Street … It is here that I sleep, eat, meditate, write, lecture, advise, teach meditation, and raise funds to teach meditation to (hopefully) millions of people in schools, hospitals, businesses, Indian reservations, homeless shelters, prisons, etc.

During the days of Spring and Summer, it is lovely outside … The warm sunlight bounces off the high-rise windows across the street and pours in through the paned glass in front of me… I am soothed by the light. My work is stimulating, fabulously fun, I can work forever…

But these days are not those days. It is February and the sun is somewhere else. It is dark and windy and cold out. Down below, cars and trucks honk in loud, angry frustration as some delivery van that stalls traffic to allow some kid in shirt sleeves to roll out stacks of bread or Coke, or (very New York-y) trays of chopped (sadly unripe) fruit in clear plastic cups.

I don’t mind regular dark. Some of my friends get gloomy without sun or lamplight. I can empathize how they feel, but I am comforted by soft, low light, even cool darkness.

But cold-harsh-gray, like it is outside my window right now, that I don’t like so much. It makes me want to push my chair back, flatten my computer screen, and amble over to the television in an adjoining room to pick up the last ten minutes of the umpteenth rerun of a “Law and Order” episode on cable.

I get a quick hit of engagement… and then a final resolution.

Dr. Norman Rosenthal is a psychiatrist, a researcher for 20 years at the National Institutes of Mental Health, and a very enthusiastic meditator. He is also a dear friend. In recent months he has begun recommending that many of his patients learn TM.

Dr. Rosenthal knows a lot about the value of light. Twenty years ago, he discovered “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), which proves, clinically, what so many already know: People get down when there is no light.

Dr. Rosenthal is no new-agey guy. He has been in the employ of big pharma for decades, studying the impact of new drugs on anxiety, depression, and other such disorders. He sees meditation as an essential tool for the psychiatrist and his/her patient—eliminating stress, waking up the brain, and providing a lightness of being that can mitigate the winter blues (the title of his recent book).

It’s almost five o’clock now. Outside, the buildings and streets have emptied with the close of the day’s markets. There is an odd silence downtown when everyone leaves, not so much a purity but a void left over from the subtle rumbling of fear and greed and desperation. I, and my foundation colleagues, are bit like lone ducks down here, talking of consciousness and teaching meditation to city in the trance of shiny objects and wads of paper. But times are changing and the phone is ringing a lot.

It is almost five o’clock and, for me, it is time to meditate. Oh, what a comfort–oh, the lightness of Being. Others must feel it, too. That is why the phone keeps ringing.


  1. Beautiful! It’s like I’m there, watching it all with you. Even though you’re describing the dark dull day, the way you do it is uplifting. That lightness of Being you find within by meditating is making its way out through your writing. Thanks for the great read.

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